Incapable of relationships with men?(26 Posts)
I'm not sure how to get all this down so I hope it makes sense - apologies if it is a crock.
My relationship background is a 15 year relationship /marriage with an abusive man....awesome
I left that marriage 3 years ago and have been dating a bit but in the main I have been "working on me" <boak> developing really strong female friendships, and become a total 'independent woman' - career/house/ mindset - the lot!
And I was genuinely happy being single - felt completely liberated and had no need at all for a man. Well, ok, maybe for sex occasionally, but no emotional need for a man.
So then I meet someone, a bit unexpected....and here's the thing.
He is open, kind, hot, gentle, understanding, thoughtful, solvent, completely non aggressive, loves me......I've been "in a relationship" for 6 months with him now. But I think I genuinely am now incompatible with what you are supposed to do in a relationship with a man.
So, he likes having discussions and debates, so do I, so we have discussions about all sorts of things. But when we get onto feminism, I hate it, I 'get' that most men don't understand their own privilege and he is never rude or puts me down, I just think CBA explaining this. Literally CBA and I just want him to leave.
God this sounds petty when I've written it down, but something happens in me every time I speak with him about these things (I was thinking of saying that maybe we shouldn't speak about feminism but then WHY should I - it is important to me).
So I guess where I'm at is.....this is a decent guy, I really really like him........he does try and take time to understand the feminist points of view without being vile...........but even this is not good enough for me......it seems to be putting me off him.............but really what more can I expect? Like, this is "one of the good ones"!!
Am I just being completely non-compromising and 'hard work'?
Do I have an unrealistic expectation of how relationships should be? i.e. full on all embracing romantic love.
Or am I some sort of psychopath incapable of loving a man?
Please don't hold back.
My husband understands feminism and male privilege. There are men out there who do. Ok this won't be an issue for a lot of women but it's important to you and if this chap doesn't get it then he's not right for you.
I do agree that relationships will not be full on romantic love all the time but that doesn't seem to be what you expect, unless there is more to the situation than what you've posted.
Did he always understand privilege?
I loathe to say it, but did it take time and learning? See, if I look at myself....i know it took me time...and experience to get the concepts.
So am I being unfair? He's never been in much contact with a feminist.
I will say he doesn't expect me to 'educate' him, he goes off and reads stuff we have talked about independently.
To a degree he always understood but I think he gets it more now.
I think there's a difference between someone completely dismissing your point of view (which is what I thought he was doing in your first post) and what you describe in your second post - he thinks about it, goes away and reads up.
That said, I'm not dating him so if you're not happy with him stop seeing him.
Yeah he doesn't dismiss my point of view...well not overtly I guess. I fear I have become too intolerant. He actually is interested and tries and definitely independently tries to see my POV, but what I mean by not dismissing me overtly is he does say things like..."there has been massive progress for women" all the time...and I find it a bit minimising. Then I feel prickly.
You say he loves you, but do you love him?
I feel like saying it to him, yes.
I'm wary though of what it is I feel because I've only known him 6 months. Could just be lust
Feels like love. Maybe this is the warts n all phase....no ones perfect after all?
If you're not happy with him, you're not happy.
It doesn't matter what the sticking point is, nor whether others think it's valid.
You are in charge of your life, and you decide if you want this man in it.
And it's OK to decide that, no you don't want a relationship, with him, with anyone, now, never.
It sounds like he's great on paper but not in person. I might be way off, but could it be that to the "old you" he would have seemed perfect but in fact the new, more aware you can see that for all his talk, deep down he still sees women as inferior? And that you are focusing on his attitudes towards feminism as they are the only obvious indicators of his beliefs when in fact his behaviour subtly indicates that belief all the time, but in ways you can't quite pinpoint?
As an example, my dh is a genuinely good man. But every so often he would do seemingly small seemingly thoughtless things that I would feel absolutely livid about, such as inviting his parents to stay without telling me. On their own theses incidents seemed insignificant but taken together, over time, and with greater awareness I could see that behimd theses thoughtless actions was a belief that his life and his time were important but mine weren't. Essentially when making a decision he thought "does this suit me not us because while outwardly while he would always say we were equal deep down he had absorbed from his misogynistic prick of a father that the "man of the house" makes decisions while the
skivvy woman goes along with them. I mean MIL moved country twice against her will to suit FIL who couldn't give a shiny shit about her feelings. After each incident I would get "sorry won't do it again" but it would always happen again. It was only when I explained the overarching attitude that I felt caused him to behave this way that a light went on for dh. He did do it again after that but I reminded him and he rectified it straight away with no bullshit "sorry".
For me dh's willingness to recognise his attitudes and counteract them is the key. If he just denied it or belittled my feelings he'd be gone long ago. He has genuinely learned.
Sorry for the ramble! Does any of my situation ring a bell for you?
Maybe this is folk wisdom but I can see some sense in it--how does he treat his mother? If you've seen them together, that's the best evidence, but if she's far away or deceased, then at least you can pick up his mood from how he talks about her. Even if (hypothetically) she were a thoroughly nasty person, if he could acknowledge that getting along with her is a strain without being totally dismissive, I'd call it a point in his favour. Never mind what Freud said about it, if a man grows up respecting his mother, at least there's some hope that he knows how to respect women generally.
You don't have to be in a relationship with anyone. The fact that he is a "nice guy" does not mean he is entitled to your time, affection or anything else. You do not have to give people chances if it isn't appropriate for you.
I think in a sense you've spent so long 'being all you need' its made you a little inflexible to accepting little flaws that is something everyone has to do , and need to 'thaw out a bit' in terms of being overly picky and dismissing a good relationship.
Almost impossible to tell whether he is truly misogynist or whether you are being over sensitive. You say he goes off and reads things which I would consider a good sign.
Can you give an example of the kind of issues you feel you can't get him to understand?
Dh is frankly even more of a hardcore feminist than me, but still refuses to call himself one! The man is a sahd, pulls his weight in all domestic matters and actively contacts magazines or newspapers with his concerns over images and content. He challenges friends and family on deep seated instinctive misogyny. I could go on. But ask him if he's a feminist and he says no.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being "picky" when it comes to choosing a life partner. Lots of women could do with being more "picky", tbh.
Yep. Most women aren't picky enough.
I think when women are accused of being incapable of having relationships with men, they ought to assume that if that's true, it's because there's something wrong with the men they meet, not something wrong them.
I think thats right if women over look bad behaviour traits, go with the first man who shows them attention etc but this isn't the case here.
That's so interesting shoe, he refuses to call himself feminist too yet also would be gutted to be called sexist.
I've spent some time with him in the last few days. Last week we'd had a 'debate' about a sex therapy programme and again he came back this time and had reevaluated his initial point, one which had grated with me slightly.
I dunno, it's interesting. He says he loves my opinions, just he's never thought about things to such detail, and finds it a real eye opener.
I'm thinking now he deserves the benefit of the doubt...he'd genuinely be disgusted to be called a misogynist and it seems he rectifies and takes on board different opinions...a rarity so far in my life....so maybs I'll take a chill pill
DP can be like this, and it annoys me a bit but for me it's not a big enough issue to discount all of the other lovely things about him.
Which is not to say, BTW, that it's something you SHOULD dismiss if it's bothering you. If you're potentially comitting to someone for marriage or similar to marriage ie for life, you have to live with all of the annoying parts as well as the good parts, they're not going to magically go away.
But for me, it's enough that he provides a nice safe counter to all of the sexist crap that generally exists in the world. I think that generally men haven't usually thought of this kind of thing before because it doesn't occur to them so it's good that he recognises that.
Has to be up to you, though.
It would bother me if it were not absolutely clear whether his conversion is sincere. Everyone has their ingrained prejudices, but hopefully most of us look, listen and learn to be better people. Some, however, change what they say to appear more acceptable, whilst the same old nasty thought patterns simmer under the surface. It's probably too early to tell which one your New Man is, but I really hope the former, as it sounds as if he is well worth continuing to see if he is not a misogynist in hiding.
I am fascinated by this as I seem so out of step with the other replies. I really can't understand what the issue is from the original post. Why does it matter if you don't want to explain feminism points to him?
You don't have to have identical politics do you?
The other bit that fascinates me is "what you are supposed to do in a relationship with a man".
I mean there isn't a rule book is there? So what if your relationship is falling short of some mythical ideal meeting of minds. I think you can just do the bits you like doing and if he likes that too then where's the problem?
"Counselling" is my answer to everything on this board. It does help me when there's something I'm bothered about but can't understand why. My counsellor just asks the right questions. If you don't have a counsellor do you have a friend who knows you really well who would be honest with you? You could ask them a general question and see if they can see what's bugging you.
He might well be a nice man but that still doesn't mean you have to remain in a relationship with him if you'd rather not. It's not compulsory to have a romantic relationship with a man. It's certainly fine to dump a man for any reason you like after a few months, when you don't have DC or share a home with him.
Are you actually deciding that you don't want to spend as much time with this particular human being as you are currently doing, (because you are giving up solitude, emotional independence and other things that you value, or don't actually enjoy being with him)
or are you unloading your feelings about men in general, your abusive ex, the patriarchy, your entirely reasonable mistrust of menshaped people and general justified rage and handing the entire baggage to this rather wellmeaning and understanding chap whom you actually rather love and like?
Sounds as though you might be doing the latter and he's doing his best to handle it and understand your point of view?
Being in a relationship where you can feel that safe could be a very strange and scary thing!
"I will say he doesn't expect me to 'educate' him, he goes off and reads stuff we have talked about independently."
I think this is promising. I'd stick it out if he is a nice guy on all other levels. If he is willing to find out about what is so dear to you I'd take that as a good sign.
But then I am an old romantic!
I think if I wasn't with DP any more in the future, I would be like you, OP. the bit that really resonates with me is "Literally CBA and I just want him to leave." I really understand this. I don't have to be understood or agreed with by a man to be right, I get things they don't and have thought about them so hard and in such precise detail that it just bores me to be expected to go over them again, especially on the defensive, like a merchant enthusiastically selling his wares to a bored and contemptuous customer. No. Just fuck off.
the thing is, what do you want from this relationship? you could be happy with someone to go on holiday / go to bed with and not let this worry you (I suppose, in principle). How emotionally invested are you?
You could ask him. You could say (in a more finessed way) "there is a ton of stuff you don't get, and I do. I need you to understand it in order to be with me. I could explain it to you, but it would be hard work and I haven't decided if I want to. I certainly can't be arsed if I have to do this against resistance - you need to accept as a starting point that you don't get certain things at the moment, and you can learn certain things from me, if you are willing to. Is this something you are prepared to engage with or are you going to be a dick about it?"
if you do that, you are basically accepting that it could all go tits up, which is of course fine if you are fine with it (I think it would be great if you were fine with it!)
I am not sure if I would be in the relationship I am in now if I had done this. I know there were key moments when I let key things go. I feel a deep repressed anger about .... something. It isn't good for us and I have no idea how to deal with it. It isn't good. It is where we are for now but if anything happens to dp I wouldn't do it this way again. you don't have to do anything you don't want to!
Youretoast and OP .. its like you are typing the thoughts in my head! I just kinda dismissed it as getting older and less tolerant of people. You are not Gemini are you?
I hadn't seen some of these replies. But thank you.
I'm a SGB fan and completely follow your ethos about being free to leave a relationship at any point.
However I think Missy's point number 2 is exactly what I suspected I was doing - unloading all my man suspicion on him. If I try and be as objective as is humanly possible and judge him only on his actions then he's nowhere near 'bad man'
Which is guess is why the OP is titled 'incapable of relationships with men'....my awareness and knowledge that I have...is it incompatible with relationships even with decent men?
Toast: perfectly put. I have actually sort of said that to him in not exactly those words. His reply was "I'm worried that these things might put you off. I love hearing your views on things"
No aggression. No belittling. Just empathetic.
And yes, missy, it feels bloody strange and scary.
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